Eggs, Glorious Eggs!
Eggs are one the most versatile foods in the world and remain relatively inexpensive for most of us. They are eaten in every country in the world, the vast majority of these being hen eggs. In omelettes, boiled, scrambled, poached, fried, baked, deviled, basted, shirred, coddled and pickled, are just some of the ways we like to eat our eggs. As well as egg-based dishes themselves, they are also a common ingredient in numerous other cooked foods such as cakes, pies, puddings, quiches, souffles, etc, etc.
If we could manage to put all the world’s annual egg production in one basket, it would have to be one helluva-sized basket. The current global consumption of eggs is estimated to be heading towards 1.3 trillion per year, which converts to well over 70 million tonnes. Country-wise, China is the world’s largest producer and consumer of eggs. The Chinese manage to scoff more than 460 million per annum, 34% of the world’s total. However, it’s the Dutch, Japanese and Mexicans who top the table of most eggs per capita.
As Good as Eggs?
Did you know that eggs are exceptionally nutritious, high in antioxidants and can actually aid weight loss? Often cited as the original superfood, a large egg provides some 6 g of high-quality protein but only contains about 75 calories. Eggs contain 13 different vitamins and are one of the few foods that contain vitamin D, critical for good bone health and immune function. Eggs also provide all nine ‘essential’ amino acids in precisely the right proportions needed to maintain optimal health. Unlike most foods, eggs contain choline, an essential nutrient that is thought to protect against heart and liver disease.
On the Flipside!
Salmonella infection is a common bacterial disease that affects the intestinal tract. In Europe, of all foodstuffs, eggs have been identified as the biggest source of the disease. The disease can be transmitted to humans through the consumption of raw or soft-boiled eggs. Most people who get sick from salmonella have diarrhea, fever, aches and pains, vomiting, and stomach cramps. On the plus side, the majority of adults usually get over the symptoms within a few days without seeing a doctor. However, for young children, the elderly, and other vulnerable adults, or in cases where the disease is particularly severe, infection can result in death, if left untreated.
In good news for the UK, salmonella in eggs has all but been eliminated due to an effective widespread programme of bird inoculation.
The Future for Eggs?
Revenue from the global eggs market is expected to reach around US$120 billion in 2023. So, what is the future of egg production? As well as population growth, changing social and economic conditions are having a huge impact on the world’s demand for food. The market expects continued growing demand for animal products, including eggs, especially from developing countries. Projections are that global egg production will increase by an average of 8.70% per annum over the next 5 years.
Beyond that, in an increasingly less secure world, with the added problems of climate change and population growth, it’s difficult to imagine how the world’s future food demand may ever be met.
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